Armchair Travel & Caribbean Fare

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“The market ladies sell spice necklaces–garlands of cloves, cinnamon bark, bay leaves, cocoa beans, mace and nutmeg–that are irresistible. I now have them hanging all around the boat, making it smell spicy and delicious. Mangoes are in season, and literally falling off the trees–an embarrassment of mangoes, to someone from the north. We feel duty bound to try as many varieties as we can.” ~Ann Vanderhoof An Embarrassment of Mangoes

A couple winters ago, when the snow was knee high and the sky a silver grey hue, I picked up a book that I read about in my page-a-day “Book Lovers Daily Calendar.” I always find great book recommendations in this handy little helper!

booklovecal

The book I found that winter day, that is now one of my all-time favorites, is called:

An Embarrassment of Mangoes by Ann Vanderhoof

an_embarrassment_of_mangoes

This book is written by a woman who decided, along with her husband to come up with a plan to rent out their home, move to a 42-foot sailboat, and set sail for the Caribbean. Their journey lasted two years, during which time they sailed to sixteen countries surrounded by turquoise sea, periwinkle sky, and paradise. It’s a book full of humor, adventure, and my favorite…unique, delicious recipes!

Some of my favorite recipes from this book:

Bahamian Mac and Cheese

Mango Crisp

Papaya Banana Muffins

Spicy Island Gingerbread

and the one I have made over and over…and again for dinner last night…

Cheesy Chicken with Avocado and Tomato Salsa

Avocado-Chicken-DSC_0026

1/3 cup cornmeal

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, quartered

1/2 lime or lemon

1/2 cup fresh or store bought tomato salsa (I used a brand that makes a variety with mangoes, peaches and pineapple)

1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and thickly sliced

4 slices extra sharp cheddar, monterey jack or queso de freier cheese

fresh cilantro, chopped

Combine cornmeal, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Dredge completely thawed chicken breasts in mixture. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed frying pan with a lid. Gently saute the garlic pieces for a minute or two. Add the chicken breasts, and saute until a golden brown crust has formed (6 or 7 minutes per side.) Squeeze the lime or lemon over the chicken. Check to see that the chicken is almost done. Top each breast with some salsa, a couple slices of avocado, and a slice of cheese. Lower heat, cover, and cook a minute or two longer until the cheese has melted. Garnish with the cilantro. Serve with coconut rice, a mixed green salad drizzled with pineapple vinaigrette, and more sliced avocado and tomato on the side.

Tip: This recipe can easily be adapted for the grill. Marinate chicken in lime juice, olive oil, red pepper, cilantro and garlic for at least 30 minutes. Grill over medium-high heat until the chicken is almost done. (About 5 minutes per side.) Top each breast with salsa, a couple slices of avocado, and a slice of cheese. Cover grill and cook a minute or two longer, until cheese is melty.

Have a little party on your deck, serve this lovely dish and make mai tais or pina coladas!

Enjoy!

~Melissa


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  17 comments for “Armchair Travel & Caribbean Fare

  1. Chantelle
    May 18, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Once again, Melissa, you’ve made my mouth water. This looks delicious! Thanks for sharing such wonderful recipes. Here’s to hoping mine looks half as good when I get a chance to make it!

  2. May 18, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    Thanks Chantelle! I think you’ll like this recipe. Simple gourmet. Maybe you could have your darling man whip up a batch of the best salsa on the PLANET (that I am still stockpiling in my freezer, and guarding it like a salsa hoarder)…and you could top your avocado chicken with that. MMMMMM….enjoy! πŸ˜‰

  3. Kimber Dunn
    May 18, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    OMG I wish I were your neighbor, because then I’d always be “happening” over right at dinnertime!!! LOL You have the best recipes posted!! It’s like a cookbook in a blog. Love it!! And now I want to read that book too!!

  4. May 19, 2010 at 6:19 am

    Kimber, I would love it if you were my neighbor. πŸ™‚

    Funny you should say that about a book…I’ve been thinking about that possibility lately. Hmmm, we’ll see!

  5. Sandy
    May 19, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Melissa,
    I hope your neighbors appreciate you and are well aware of your cooking talent along with Jeff’s cooking talent. Just look Kimber is in agreement with me to be your neighbors. Remember I will bring over the salads….And I also told you about the cookbook….I have written a few in some of those church, Merchants Bank cookbooks, etc…..From someone who doesn’t cook alot or has the time….

  6. May 19, 2010 at 9:23 am

    You guys are so sweet πŸ˜‰
    Thanks for all your complimentary comments *blush*
    I think we should do the pot luck idea. Sandy’s bringing the salads, so my work is half done…hee hee

  7. Kimber Dunn
    May 21, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    I can bring the side dishes – taken from one of your many recipes! LOL

  8. May 21, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    okay πŸ™‚ LOL

  9. March 16, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Melissa, I am Seriously Slobbering here! Not only am I cuhRAYzee about the recipe, but now I have to buy another book!!! I don’t eeeeven know how many cookbooks I have already. Not that it really matters. Three or four more couldn’t hurt. And this one will take me to dreamland… Thanks and lotsa love! πŸ™‚

    • Melissa
      March 16, 2012 at 8:00 pm

      Hi Michele! so glad you like the recipe πŸ™‚ it is VERY yummy. I’m a cookbook junkie too. hee hee! I think you’ll love this. The book is an amazing adventure with beautiful, tropical recipes sprinkled throughout. enjoy!

  10. Beverley
    March 17, 2012 at 5:38 am

    Oh Melissa that really does look so good you just want to go and make it now and what a wonderful photograph of it. Are you the photographer too?

    Have a great weekend

    Love

    Beverley xoxo

  11. Beverley
    March 17, 2012 at 5:39 am

    Oh Melissa that really does look so good you just want to go and make it now and what a wonderful photograph of it too.

    Have a great weekend

    Love

    Beverley xoxo

    • Melissa
      March 17, 2012 at 5:45 am

      Hello Beverley πŸ™‚ This is one of our favorite ways to prepare chicken. SO yummy! I am a photographer, but this particular photo was taken by my very talented husband (who is also my photography teacher.) Thanks so much for stopping by! xo

  12. Alison Arsenault
    January 8, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    This looks so good, I will definitely have to try it. Another recipe book I will need to purchase to add to my collection, you can never have enough cookbooks.

    • Melissa
      January 8, 2013 at 7:38 pm

      I agree, Alison! Something I obviously live by if my crazy cookbook collection is any indication πŸ˜‰ Thanks for visiting! xo

  13. April 16, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    This colorful dish brings me right back to the Caribbean (and that’s a good thing!) ;-). What a gorgeous use of ingredients Melissa and I can just imagine how delicious the mΓ©lange of flavors must be. Beautiful!

    • Melissa
      April 16, 2013 at 4:19 pm

      Hi there sweet Kelly! thanks so much for visiting! I’m so happy you like the recipe πŸ™‚ enjoy.

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